In case you haven't heard, the Buffalo Bills (15-3) are heading to the AFC Championship game, for the first time since 1993, next Sunday. Barber Joey Williams gave Raymond Schramm Jr. a haircut that matches his team pride after yesterday's playoff win over the Baltimore Ravens 17-3.
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Assemblyman Steve Hawley joined his colleagues in the Assembly Minority on Friday in writing a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, calling on them to include local home rule authorities in the process of developing coronavirus vaccine distribution plans in order to make them more effective.
The letter was drafted in response to reports that vaccine distribution has been slow and ineffective in New York State, with some vaccine doses reportedly being wastefully disposed of due to improper storage.
“What we do in these next few weeks with vaccine distribution will determine how much tragedy we will all have to endure as a state, so we need to act now to get these vaccines to the people that need them most, as quickly as possible,” Hawley said.
“We need to give the people who know their communities better than anyone a say in planning vaccine distribution, because a singular top-down approach will not work for the varied and unique communities that make up New York State. Getting these vaccines out effectively and promptly will save lives, and we cannot afford to let even a single dose of the vaccine go to waste during this unprecedented public health crisis.”
The Batavia City School District is asking families to make a final selection of which learning model — in-person hybrid or 100-percent remote — they want for their children in preparation for the start of the second semester of the 2020–21 academic year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Jan. 13 statement from the district, Superintendent of Schools Anibal Soler Jr. requested that families submit changes to their students’ learning modalities by Jan. 22. He said that this deadline will afford the district enough time to make adjustments to academic programming and transportation services before the semester begins Feb. 1.
“It may not change our numbers a lot, but at least we know moving forward that that is the final in-person hybrid and the final remote rosters that principals could use to kind of lock in the rest of their year,” Soler said at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.
Families that would like to select a different learning method for the semester should complete the second semester Learning Model Form for each child in their household who seeks the change. Requests for changes can also be made via phone call to students’ respective schools. Those who do not want to modify their students’ academic format do not need to take action.
This survey process aims to strengthen the teacher-student experience for both in-person hybrid learners and remote learning students. The statement said that this learning model selection will allow teachers and administrators to plan more effectively for a stable end to “a difficult and fluid” school year.
“We don't want to burn out our teachers because they've already flip-flopped so much in the way that they teach,” Board Member Tanni Bromley said. “So if they can have a consistent roster, it would be easier for them to decide how they're going to move forward.”
The district’s in-person hybrid students shift between receiving face-to-face and at-home online instruction based on the cohort they are in. All remote-only learners complete their classes entirely in a virtual setting. Board members said at Monday’s meeting that some families have switched between these models multiple times throughout the first semester.
“Consistency for the student is probably best, too, in that if a parent chooses one, then it would be best to kind of ride that out,” Board Member Shawna Murphy said. “Get them through this year and hopefully we won't even be dealing with this next year. But the flip-flopping for the kid isn't good either.”
As of Jan. 15, BCSD reported that 92 individuals, on or off campus, among its students, teachers and staff members are currently testing positive for COVID-19. The district’s statement noted that it may need to transition to 100-percent virtual instruction for all students if an issue related to COVID-19 arises during the second semester.
BCSD previously switched to fully remote instruction from Dec. 7, 2020 to Jan. 4, 2021 because of staffing shortages related to a rise in positive COVID-19 cases among its students, teachers and staff, and throughout Genesee County. An influx of family requests to move children from hybrid to remote learning was cited as a challenge the district faced in the days leading up to this switch.
“All of our teachers are feeling burned out,” Soler said. “I mean it is tough to navigate this virtual and remote, and it's just a harder year. So our teachers are working like maniacs. They're planning. They're trying to prepare.”
Changes to instruction methods will take effect Feb. 1 and remain in place for the duration of the school year. However, according to the statement, a student’s school may contact parents and guardians at any time during the semester to suggest a modification to the child’s learning format to accommodate their academic needs.
In terms of exceptions to learning model commitments, Soler said he wants families to understand “that if there's a situation that comes about, that they would need to go through their principal first, prior to seeking approval to change, but that only extreme extenuating circumstances would be considered.”
A mandatory quarantine period does not alter the second semester learning method of an in-person hybrid student who tests positive for COVID-19 or has been in close contact with someone who receives a positive test result.
“If that child is quarantined, then he has to go out,” Board Member John Reigle said. “If they test positive, they're out for a certain period. But that person committed to in-person [instruction]. Once they're cleared, they can come back.”
Board members expressed optimism at Monday’s meeting about the sense of normalcy and ease of mind that the second semester learning model selection can potentially bring to everyone.
“To kind of know what's going to be happening for the rest of the school year in February, I think that's a good thing because it's kind of getting back to normal,” Murphy said. “Regardless of what you choose, it's going to stay the same.”
The next board meeting will be livestreamed at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 25 on the school district’s Board of Education YouTube channel.
In the coming weeks, Batavia City Council members will engage in a review process to finalize the city’s 2021–22 budget based on Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski’s recommended cutbacks to municipal services amid COVID-19 financial challenges.
At Monday night’s City Council business meeting, Tabelski presented a proposed pathway to economic recovery that summarized city revenues and expenses. She said that despite her pride in generating a financially sound budget, it was difficult to put together a fiscal plan because of income losses related to pandemic shutdowns and the subsequent economic downturn.
“I can honestly say that none of us like this budget,” she said. “The restraints and restrictions forced upon us by reduced revenue and state aid will not allow the city to operate as business as usual. There are services that will need to be reduced or cut altogether if we are to achieve a budget within the tax cap.”
She said city budget shortfalls have been compounded by a projected 20-percent decrease -- $350,000 -- in aid and incentives for municipalities. State and federal relief measures have focused on providing businesses with loans and grants, and individuals with stimulus checks, unemployment benefits and eviction and foreclosure moratoriums.
“Within the latest stimulus bill that was passed, there was yet no aid to local governments,” she said. “There is potential for local government funding relief with the new administration, but at this time there are no guarantees and it is not reflected in the fiscal ’21–’22 budget.”
Resident service scalebacks include reduced staffing levels at the local police and fire departments, community policing, arts funding, academic development, special police details and community events. Administrative services, public works and government personnel expenditures will also experience significant cost reductions.
“Restorations of these services will ultimately depend on the economic recovery of the nation as a whole or re-examining priority services for the city,” Tabelski said.
Though cuts and hiring freezes have occurred across departments, increases in city employee wages and expenses, like Social Security and retirement costs, will leave a $1.2 million gap between revenue and expenditures in comparison to the previous fiscal year.
The prospective budget includes the layoff of an ordinance enforcement officer, a retirement incentive for a police officer and several unfilled jobs. Tabelski said the city remains committed to investment in workers compensation and health insurance, budgeted at $294,000 and $2.6 million, respectively.
The property tax rate increase is slated to be 1.38 percent, which would change the rate from $9.59 to $9.73 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value. This year, the city saw a $175,000 decrease in sales tax — its largest single source of annual revenue — and a general fund decline of approximately $800,000.
“The current conditions in the general fund are unsustainable,” Tabelski said. “Future budgets will depend on the ability of the economy ... to recover lost state aid, for us to find sources of revenue.”
Tabelski said the city should become less dependent on the fund balance, reserves and water fund revenue in budgets going forward. She suggested to council members that renovations to commercial and residential properties throughout the community could serve as valuable income streams.
“Despite these difficult economic times, the City of Batavia continues to see investment and economic development in terms of construction and building improvements,” she said. “There are many active developers looking at our city for market-rate housing projects that will draw new small businesses downtown.”
The interim city manager praised Batavia government leaders for their efforts and expressed confidence in their planning to deliver the services that city residents and employees require.
“I anticipate that our budget work sessions to follow will be extremely detailed and filled with proactive conversations so the city can achieve the budget that meets the needs of the organization, the employees and our residents,” she said.
In other action, City Council:
Endorsed a Batavia Business Improvement District application to the 2020 New York Main Street Anchor Grant for a multipurpose events and entertainment space. If awarded the state grant for up to $500,000, the funding would be used to renovate the external façade and interior of the Batavia Showtime movie theater at 6 Alva Place.
Approved a resolution that authorized Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. to sign the amended Dwyer Stadium leasing agreement. This is a five-year agreement in which the Batavia Regional Recreation Corporation will lease the stadium to CAN-USA Sports LLC.
Heard from City Attorney George Van Nest that local code enforcement deadlines are being delayed by the state legislature’s COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act. The act extends New York’s eviction moratorium until May 1 for tenants who have endured pandemic-related hardship.
The first budget work session will be held after the council’s next conference meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 25 in the Council Board Room on the second floor of City Hall, followed by a second session Feb. 1.
A two-vehicle accident with injury is reported at Ledge and Maple roads, Alabama. It is partially blocking traffic. Occupants are out. A child has a face laceration. Alabama Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.
New Listing Alert: 5216 E. Main St., Batavia. Meticulous, tasteful, solid, and well done are just a few things to be said about this lovely ranch home. This three-bedroom, two full-bath home has literally just nothing for you to do but move in and enjoy. So much has been done to this home in the last five years -- roof / siding / flooring / painting throughout just to start the list!
The main bath recently remodeled and I promise you will find many reasons to shut the door and stay awhile -- so pretty and even has heated floors! Nicely finished hardwood floors, large kitchen with plenty of newer cabinetry and new stainless appliances with attached dining area with a sliding glass door to let the sunshine in!
The basement in this house adds a whole other layer of living with a great home office leading into large family room area that has small kitchenette and a second full bath. There is also large utility area and a separate storage room for all your extra stuff -- so much great usable space!
There is an extra deep attached garage which leads out to fully fenced back yard with an additional fenced in area and large utility shed! Outside is landscaped with loads of perennials so you can ease right into sunny weather -- make an appointment today! Call Lynn Bezon 585-344-HOME (4663). Click here to view this listing.
- Genesee County received 55 new positive cases of COVID-19.
- The new positive cases reside in the:
- West Region (Alabama, Darien, Pembroke)
- Central Region (Alexander, Batavia, Bethany, Elba, Oakfield)
- East Region (Bergen, Byron, Le Roy, Pavilion, Stafford)
- The new positive cases reside in the:
- The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.
- Seventy-two of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
- Nine of the positive individuals are hospitalized.
- Orleans County received 29 new positive cases of COVID-19 from Tuesday through today.
- The positive cases reside in the:
- West Region (Yates, Ridgeway, Shelby)
- Central Region (Carlton, Gaines, Albion, Barre)
- East Region (Kendall, Murray, Clarendon)
- The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.
- Seven of the new positive individuals were on quarantine prior to testing positive.
- Thirty-eight of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation.
- Eighteen of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
- Two of the new positive cases are residents of Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
- Two of the new positive cases are inmates at the Orleans Correctional Facility
- We are deeply saddened to report the death of two residents of Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Both of these individuals are over 65. We do not provide any further information to protect the privacy of the individuals and their families. Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of these individuals during this very sad time.
- We are deeply saddened to report the death of a community member. The individual is over 65. We do not provide any further information to protect the privacy of this person and their family. Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of this person during this very sad time.
Donna Hartman is indicted for the crime of second-degree identity theft, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on July 6 in the Town of Dalton, Livingston County, that Hartman knowingly and intentionally assumed the identity of another person in order to benefit herself monetarily in an amount exceeding $500. It is alleged in the first count that she presented herself to Livingston County Ambulance staff as a person residing on Fargo Road in Stafford, resulting in an ambulance bill for $835 to be sent to the victim. In count two, she is accused of the same crime at Noyes Memorial Hospital, resulting in a bill for hospital service to be sent to the same victim for $732.65. In counts three and four, Hartman is accused of falsifying business records in the first degree, also a Class E felony, for her actions to cause ambulance service records and also hospital business records to reflect false information regarding her name and address.
Jorge L. Rodriguez is indicted for the crime of second-degree criminal mischief, a Class D felony. It is alleged that on Aug. 22 on the Thruway that he intentionally damaged property belonging to another person -- a 2017 Chevrolet -- in an amount exceeding $1,500. In count two, Rodriguez is accused of second-degree reckless endangerment. It is alleged that he drove recklessly that day, in a manner that created substantial risk of serious physical injury. He is accused in count two of purposely ramming his vehicle into the victim's vehicle while another victim was standing between the two vehicles.
Amanda M. Webb is indicted for the crime of criminal mischief in the third degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Nov. 1 in the City of Batavia that Webb intentionally damaged property belonging to another person -- a 2009 Chevrolet -- in an amount exceeding $250. In count two she is accused of second-degree harassment. It is alleged in count two that Webb, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, struck, shoved, kicked or otherwise subjected a victim to physical contact or threatened to do so.
Lawrence D. Williams is indicted for the crime of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the first degree, a Class C felony. It is alleged that on Oct. 4 while at Walmart in Batavia that he passed a counterfeit $100, knowing it was not real, with the intent to defraud.
Joshua G. Bachorski is indicted for second-degree burglary, a Class C violent felony. It is alleged that on Oct. 9 Bachorski knowingly entered or remained unlawfully in a dwelling on Pearl Street in the City of Batavia with the intent to commit a crime. In count two, he is accused of third-degree burglary, a Class D felony, for likewise entering an outbuilding at the same address on that date with the same intention. In count three, he is accused of petit larceny, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly stealing a lawnmower owned by the victim.
Taylor K. Laird is indicted for the crime of aggravated driving while intoxicated, per se, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on May 28 in the City of Batavia that she drove a 2002 Dodge on Pearl Street while having a BAC of .08 percent or more, and while a child age 15 or less was a passenger. In count two, Laird is accused of aggravated DWI, a Class E felony, while a child age 15 or less was a passenger. In count three, Laird is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree, another Class E felony, for driving that day while her license was suspended or revoked by authorities, and while she was under the influence of alcohol or a drug.
Chad M. Putney is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a misdemeanor. It is alleged that on March 30 in the Town of Le Roy that Putney drove a 2008 Ford on Route 5 while he was intoxicated. In count two, he is accused of DWI, per se, as a misdemeanor, for having a BAC of .08 percent or more at the time. In count three, he is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony, for having in effect three or more suspensions at the the time, imposed on at least three separate dates: Feb. 3, 2018; Dec. 8, 2018; and July 15, 2019 for failure to answer, appear or pay a fine.